The Lord Who Takes

…The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away;
blessed be the Name of the Lord.

(Job 1:21)

“Many say that the Lord indeed gives; but they say that it is not right to say that the Lord takes away. This is a raging controversy among preachers, who are having trouble just accepting the Word… They say that the Lord does give; but only the Devil takes away. They say (in accordance with the scriptures) that the Devil has come to steal, kill, and destroy; but my bible doesn’t say that he WOULD do it – it says that he CAME to do it – and if you don’t have a Shepherd, then he will indeed do it. But when THE LORD is your Shepherd, then the Devil can come to do whatever he wants, but he’s got to get permission to touch you. He can’t just walk up to me and take my life: my life is not in the hand of Satan – don’t give him that power. If we gave him that power, all of us here would be dead by nightfall. He’s not going to let a host of believers like this live if he has death in his hand. But I read in my scripture that JESUS said ‘I hold the keys of death, Hell, and the grave’!
The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away!

“…We get so used to hearing, ‘The Lord gave.’ We get so used to, ‘Morning by morning new mercies we see.’ We get so used to having all that our hearts desire, until all that we can get to is, ‘The Lord gave.’
Maybe there really are those who can say, ‘Everything I’ve asked for, God has given to me’ – and if that’s true in your experience, keep on living; because I am witness that there is some more to this verse. For it says ‘The LORD’ – same God – ‘taketh away’! We get so used to, ‘The Lord gives,’ that we take it for granted; and so when the Lord takes away, we pitch a temper-tantrum. And the sign of Christian maturity is that when the Lord gives, we say, ‘BLESSED! BLESSED! BLESSED!’ But when He takes away, when He breaks your heart, when He doesn’t give you what you asked for, you still say, ‘BLESSED! BLESSED! BLESSED!’

– E.V. Hill, preaching at his wife’s funeral

 

In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
(Job 1:22)

Job was not rebuked for ‘blaming God’ (since that is not what he did by saying this) – but he was rather rebuked for afterward self-righteously defending himself against his foolish friends’ accusations. He started well in blessing the Lord, but slid quickly into pitying himself, to which God essentially replied, “Who do you think you are to complain? Am I not the Almighty?”

When God takes, He IS giving: He is giving us into His own hands to shape us into the image of the Son, who Himself prayed on our behalf, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but YOURS be done.” And let this mind be in you which also was in Christ Jesus! As the scripture says, the desires of our hearts will be granted when we delight in HIM! Do we so delight in HIS will that we count it all JOY when we meet trials? The word of Elijah to king Ahab, “there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word,” came from a man so given over to the will of God that he could confidently speak even from his own heart; for his heart had become the GOD’S very own. We shall not truly appreciate the heights of God’s mountain until we have been tested in the valley. Let us therefore feast at the table which He has laid before us in the presence of our enemy, if that is where it is currently set for us. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and HE will exalt you” (James 4:10)

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen Him, you love him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
(1 Peter 1:6-9)

God’s Law – Part 1: The Law of Light

And this is the message which we have heard from Him, and we announce to you:
GOD IS LIGHT and no darkness is in Him, none!
If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and we walk in darkness,
we lie and are not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light,
as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of His Son Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.
(1 John 1:5-7)

As the Word was from the beginning, so He remains today and forever. The same law of God which was with Him from the beginning and throughout all ages until now, stands immovable still. For even before there were any ordinances written on stone because of the people’s transgressions, even then, the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws?” For the law and the commandment of God is most simply expressed as this: His heart.
And this we know: that in His heart is no darkness or deceit! In His heart there is no variance or shadow of turning! For the law of God was, is, and will forever be the same unchanging law of His very character and nature, even the Word Himself.

Is it not right then, that the Law of that Word should be fulfilled in His own creatures? For it is indeed that same eternal Law of the Word made flesh which shines forth HIS Light unchanging throughout all ages, He being the only “True Light, which enlightens every man…” And He, that True Light which came into the world, is not the abolishment, but rather the very fulfillment of His Law’s requirement within all and through all who are being conformed to the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person: for it has pierced them through unto death, dying to the darkness which they once had been, becoming the transparent lamps of HIS arising and shining forth.

…then God said, “Let light be!” And there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good,
and God separated between the light and darkness.
(Genesis 1:3-4)

The desired work of God in His new creatures is one of dividing light from darkness. There is no obscurity in Him. The Light is good – the the Law is good; but until there is an actual separation of light from darkness made within the creature, it hates the Light – it cannot abide in the Law of Light! For the Light comes that the darkness might be cast away. The heart of every creature walking in darkness is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;” but glory be to God, that the One who tries the hearts and reins of men in the exposure of His Light is the same One who causes the old creature to utterly pass away along with the shadows by HIS dawning in our hearts; that Truth may find His dwelling in the innermost parts of our being!

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness,
hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God
in the face of Jesus Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:6)

And of that deliverance from every power of darkness into His marvelous Light, they sing to Him, “You will light my lamp; Jehovah my God will make my darkness light.” For the Light of men, the “Angel of the Lord,” while leading His people out from the bondage of Egypt, divided between the two: being for the enemy a dark cloud, but for His people a light (Ex 14:19-20). To darkness, all is darkness. Whatever Light we cannot see corresponds to whatever darkness we still walk in.

David sang of his own deliverance from the enemy, describing God as having “made darkness His covering, His pavilion all around Him, darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies. Out of the brightness before Him, His dark clouds passed through, hailstones and coals of fire.” (Ps 18) This is the Lord’s appearance to His enemies. And wherever we ourselves might walk in darkness, our own minds are as an enemy toward the searching and piercing light of God. For God separated the light from the darkness: so that the darkness can neither discern nor mix with the Light. But Christ illuminates all things for those abiding in He the Word. Therefore the Psalmist says, “IN Thy Light shall we see light.” (Ps 36:9) For Christ came as Light into the world that we may abide no longer in darkness. But for those who stubbornly remain in darkness, and darkness growing in them, to them “the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light.” (Amos 5:18)

For Daniel says of Him, “He reveals the deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.” Therefore no escape is found for the rebellious, though they cover themselves in darkness, though they make the night to be as light around them, of whose exposure before God David also says, “Even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”

Those who walk in darkness are alienated from the mindset of God by the works of evil and every foul spirit. This is threatened by the Light, and therefore they cannot abide it; so that unless the Father of lights draws them, they cannot come into its fellowship. Yet it is still His Light itself by which they are drawn, therefore it says to His children, those lights of the world in whom He already abides, “So let your light shine before men, that they may see…” For His drawing becomes sure upon all that are humbled by its piercing affliction, into whose darkness “the Light has shined… and the darkness has not overtaken it.”

With the merciful, You reveal Yourself as merciful;
with an upright man, You reveal yourself as upright;
with the pure, You reveal Yourself as pure;
and with the crooked, You appear perverse;
for You will save an afflicted people, but will bring down haughty eyes.
(Psalm 18:25-27)

The Light must be allowed do its afflicting work of opening the eyes of those in darkness, so that sin might be seen to be exceedingly sinful. And the crucible of their being drawn and separated to Him cannot be perceived by those without Light; for even the powers of darkness are not beyond His grasp to wield against their own intentions. He even causes His Light to shine out of the darkness – even from its very midst! For He is the One “forming light, and creating darkness; making peace, and creating evil.” (Isa 45:7) Therefore, the words of their repentance through His chastisement are these: “I am the man that has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath. HE has led me and caused me to walk in darkness, and not in light.” (Lam 3:1-2)

For He makes darkness His slave, and the shadows He bends to His own will. Yet we who have already walked in the light ought never to presume upon this grace, since to those straying from whatever Light they presently have, He warns, “Give glory to the Lord your God, before He cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains; and, while ye look for light, He turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.” (Jer 13:16)

To those remaining in darkness, and darkness remaining in them, God’s Law of Light has only the ministry of condemnation. For unless a man is full of Light, the Light condems him. And just as the Law’s former revelation could not transform men by the fading glory of ordinances, but only expose them in its requirements; likewise that same Light of the Lord’s conviction regarding sin, righteousness, and judgement was the school master humbling us into the more exceedingly glorious new covenant in Christ Jesus, who is the only true fulfillment of the whole Law of God’s heart for reconciliation. For this is “the mystery having been hidden from the ages… but now revealed to His saints… Who is CHRIST IN YOU, the hope of glory.” For it has always been the very same Law, the very same Word, the very same Gospel: yes, even “that which was from the beginning;” for the substance has always been Jesus Christ! And He who was revealed TO Saul of Tarsus, that same One was revealed IN a transformed Paul (Gal 1:16). It is the revealing of this mystery which all the prophets looked forward to, and of which Peter finally said, “and we have the more established prophetic word, in which you do well to take heed, as to a lamp shining in a murky place, until day dawns and the Day-star rises in your hearts…” (2 Pet 1:19)

For the condemnation of the Law (which was a limited revelation, yet still born of God’s Light) still remains upon all not walking IN the True Light BY the True Light, JESUS, with whom His true children have been made one. “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of Light” (Eph 5:8) The former revelation of God’s Light made Moses’ veiled face shine with only a fading radiance of what was upon him: the latter revelation of it now shines forth unveiled, bringing us from glory to glory by Christ’s work within us, becoming the very luminaries of HIS light shining in a dark place. “The spiritual one discerns all things, but he is discerned by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord? Who will teach Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor 2:15-16)

The spiritual man has been exposed and transformed by the Light, becoming a transparent conduit through which proceeds the Light of Christ; but until they also become light in the Lord, those who are darkness cannot comprehend the true Substance (Christ) of the spiritual man, Whose countenance beams forth from him.

But all things being exposed by the light are clearly revealed,
for everything having been revealed IS light.
Because of this, He says,
“Arise, sleeping ones and stand up out of the dead ones,
and Christ will shine on you.”
(Ephesians 5:13-14)

For the Light in which God dwells is unapproachable except by His own Light. Therefore, within whomever the Law of God is not being fulfilled unto righteousness, they are under the Law’s curse; and in blindly judging that Law of Light amidst their lawless deeds, they are made manifest and judged by it.

And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world,
and men loved the darkness more than the Light, for their works were evil.
For everyone practicing wickedness hates the Light,
and does not come to the Light, that his works may not be exposed.
(John 3:19-20)

Every man will be judged, each according to his works; yet our works are judged not by the spectacle of their appearance, but by the substance of their source. We will be judged according to our own conformity to the Light of Christ who dwells in us, not merely according to the light of those among whom we shone. It is HIS quality reflected in us by which we are measured. For every light of the Father is simply meant to show forth the pure Light of Christ – the reaction of surrounding darkness is not our responsibility so long as we are walking with singleness of eye toward HIM, by which our whole body will be full of His light. David lived hidden under the shadow of the Almighty’s wing, even dwelling in a cave away from most of his people for a season: not because he was of darkness; but rather to keep the evil one confounded while God proved the true substance of his heart in secret before his time to rule had come. And his proven character naturally exposed the wickedness of Saul’s heart, though David never reviled him, but even had mercy upon his life (1 Sam 24).

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of
them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ,
who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord;
and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
(2 Corinthians 4:3-5)

At times, the Light shining forth from us will provoke Light to spring forth in men; at other times, it will cause them to descend deeper into darkness. We may be a beacon of hope in the midst of darkness – we may also be a silent reckoning upon darkness and for those remaining in it. Both are the work of the Light. And there are also those who appear to have already rejected the Light beyond all turning back, whom God will first bring through the deepest darkness before they truly enter the Light; just as Solomon “kept his wisdom with him” even amidst all his revelings, who later returned and at last penned, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecc 12:13-14)

But even regarding this, if we are indeed light in the Lord, then we still ought to strive toward such a degree of brightness in our kingly duty as did David: which is to search out and reveal those matters that are the glory of God to conceal (Prov 25:2); and David was called a prophet of God, though he did not know it. Likewise, as we ourselves are thereby conformed to His likeness in the secret place, growing in the revelation of knowing HIM, we also will naturally fulfill what He commanded saying, “What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light. And what you hear in the ear, proclaim on the housetops.” (Mt 10:27) Yet we do not speak before mere men, and we do not proclaim to mere men; but God. The doing comes from the being wrought of HIS inner working. We ourselves must always be lain before the scrutiny of the Lord’s light, lest we begin to deceive ourselves even as the Devil did, who now masquerades as an angel of light.

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye is single, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
(Matthew 6:22-23)

Therefore, as lights shining in a dark place, our effectiveness is not in what we think we are doing for God, but rather in being conformed to His image; for Jesus did not say “shine your light,” but He said, “LET your light shine…” HE is that light! The precision with which HE can use us will be in proprotion to our conformity to HIS Light within our every facet. Our personal singleness of eye towards HIM determines the brightness of the Light naturally proceeding from us. The more we see Him as He is, the more we shall be like Him! Anything born of ourselves apart from Him is tainted with darkness; therefore it is written, “But the one doing the truth comes to the Light, that his works may be revealed, that they exist, having been worked in God.” (John 3:21)

Praise be to God! He has brought the blind by a way that they did not know, to lead us in paths which we could not conceive of; and made darkness into light before us, and the crooked ways straight! Therefore let us now likewise draw ourselves out to the hungry in spirit, and satisfy the afflicted soul; that our light arise from the obscurity of these times, and our own darkness turn to noonday; that we may no longer grope for the wall like the blind, nor stumble at midday as though it were night. For if we walk in the Light of the Day we may say to our accuser, “Rejoice not against me, my enemy; for though I fall, I shall arise. For if sit in darkness, the Lord is a light to me. I will bear the fury of the Lord because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my cause and brings forth justice for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall see His righteousness.” (Micah 7:8-9)

This is a day for His true children to walk by nothing except the Light of Christ within their hearts. For He is doing a work to bring His people into HIS fullness; but we must be purged from within of every hint of darkness. It is He dwelling fully in His people, and His people fully in Him, of which the scripture says, “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: but it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.” (Zech 14:6-7)

The night is far gone, and the day has drawn near; then let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the weapons of the light. Let us walk becomingly, as in the day, not in carousings and drunkennesses, not in co-habitation and lustful acts, not in fighting and envy.
(Romans 13:12-13)

This is the fruit of the Law of Light being fulfilled in God’s children, this is the very Life which God has within Himself, and also the Son; so that all who remain in Him may have that Life in overflowing abundance, unto liberty from bondage for fulfilling the Law of God’s holy love. For His fullness unveiled is that coming Day of which He says, “the work of each will be revealed, for the Day will make it known…” (1 Cor 3:13) The result of inner darkness is outer darkness (Mt 8:12, 22:13, 25:30). But if we walk in that Day today, we may have confidence before Him.

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying,
“I am the Light of the world.
The one following Me will in no way walk in the darkness,
but will have the Light of Life.”
(John 8:12)

– Brendan

Grace Calls, Faith Overcomes, God Elects

But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
For many are called, but few are chosen.
(Matthew 22:11-14)

The chosen and elect are those who KEEP their garments: who by His power walk righteously; but the shame of those who defile or lose them is made manifest, and they may be blotted out of the book of life (Rev 3:4-5, 16:15).

Those who suppose that man’s free will infringes upon God’s sovereignty and therefore hardly exists are really saying that God’s sovereignty is too small to handle it. But God Himself calls us to the obedience of faith. It is by such faith on our part that we overcome the world to join Christ in His victory (1 John 5:4); and there are no good promises given to those who don’t overcome. This is why Jesus warned in response to those who did not actually keep their garments of righteousness, but presumed upon His grace, “Many are called, but few are chosen;”  because many begin in earnest and indeed have His seed in them but through the schemes of the Devil, the fear of man, and the cares of this life they quickly become devoured, withered, and choked (Matt 13).

The call of God through Christ Jesus is unto ALL men that they might become His sons from everlasting, even as from before the foundation of the earth; for from thence has He been, and that as a Lamb slain for them all. But His election will be according to the use of the faith which He gave to them. The man who buried his talent was cast out, and his reward given to another. A measure of faith is bestowed upon everyone believing so that they may grow from children into sons by His power working though that currency’s continual use.

All things which abide in Him are ever sustained and have ever been sustained by the working of His power; and these are vessels of mercy for His glory. But those which do not abide in Him, nor remain in Him (having once been there), become as though they had never been written in the book (blotted out); and these are among the vessels of wrath for His glory. All things in time are indeed seen from eternity, yet He who is eternal still longs for all things in time to be joined to His everlasting bliss, and so He has made a way for all. Therefore He can and will judge every man according to their deeds, because “everything that is not of faith is sin.” (Rom 14:23)

One might say that the path of the Good Shepherd is called “The Way: Election,” and its faithful travelers, those heeding the call, “The Chosen.”

For our salvation is yet to be fully revealed, and our adoption to sonship yet to be made fully manifest.
God places our full and ultimate adoption as His sons at the time of the redemption of our bodies (Rom 8:16-23).
Until then, we are still becoming the sons of God (John 1:12).
Until then, we are still becoming the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. (2 Cor 5:21).
And this is not by beholding ourselves, but by beholding HE who dwells in us; because the seeing of Him and the entering of His kingdom comes by the work of the Holy Spirit (John 3). For in knowing the truth we are made free, because that Spirit IS the truth, who also bears witness that we are God’s children (1 John 5:6, Romans 8:16).

And the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all with our face having been unveiled, having beheld the glory of the Lord in a mirror, are being changed into that same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.
(1 John 2:24)

Therefore, let us ever be found as vessels of mercy through obedient faith, having great hope in that which we do not yet fully see, yet also having our eyes opened to Him; keeping ourselves in the purifying love of God, in whose piercing Light we must walk (for we know that in Him is no darkness).
Let us, as it is written, work out our salvation with fear and trembling, allowing for the inner working of the Spirit of God, that we might will and do according to His good pleasure.

Let us walk from faith to faith, through which is known His grace upon grace! For there is no good promise made to those not overcoming the world, and there is no overcoming the world in He who already overcame it without the living exercise of faith by the quickening of the same Spirit who brought us forth, through which faith (and that abiding) our destiny is married to Christ’s victory.

For everything having been generated of God overcomes the world, and this is the victory overcoming the world: OUR faith.
(1 John 5:4)

Grace calls, faith overcomes, God elects.
Jesus makes possible, the Spirit gives power, for the Father has ordained it.
The way ordained is opened up before us – let us enter and abide therein.

– Brendan